Winter Walks

Walking the Dog in Winter

“Climb the mountains and get their good tidings.  Nature’s peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees.  The winds will blow their freshness into your, and the storms their energy, while cares will drop off like falling leaves.” John Muir

It’s been cold here.  The kind of cold that makes me really wonder if Charlotte Mason might not have made an exception for some climates when she wrote that families should always be outdoors if at all possible.  The other day our city was the coldest place on the planet when windchill was factored in, and anyone who has experienced windchill will tell you that it needs to be factored in. It can take -25 and send it tripping merrily along to -42, and it often does.

But I’ve got a whole set of newly knit accessories and a new parka.  A real parka: hooded, to the knee.  Ah.  Amazing. Every morning and evening I head out the door, walking the dog.  The snow squeaks.  The parka rustles.  The wind scurries along picking up snow and dancing it sideways for a few meters.  I listen to podcasts and audiobooks. I learn some and laugh some.  The other day, when we were the coldest place on Earth, I didn’t learn that till hours after my morning walk.  I’m warm now, thank goodness.

With Rainer back to work, our morning routine has shifted 40 minutes earlier, and so that lovely blue light in the sky as it waits for the sunrise that I had cherished so much each morning is no longer a part of my walk.  It will be again, certainly, the tilt of the Earth’s axis sees to that, but for now I bracket each segment of daylight with two black walks.  Or rather orange, since the streetlights give off an orange tone and the snow and the snow-laden clouds bounce that  colour all around me.

When I return home in the morning, perhaps after pausing to shovel the walk, the smell of breakfast makes me forget the initial slap in the face that is getting out into the cold darkness when I’m still sleepy and wanting a leisurely, luxurious start to the day.  Rainer makes eggs and porridge and they fill the house with the smell of warmth and welcome.

I want to add a walk with the kids to our week.  I’ve tried many different times to make a slightly more formal Nature Study work for us, but we always fade out after a time. My friend Wanda found something really wonderful that I think will work for us.  It’s the Outdoor Hour Challenge.  It uses the “Handbook of Nature Study” and features small, interesting, and manageable challenges.  If we can skate in the yard and toboggan, I’m sure we’re hardy enough to live up to Charlotte Mason’s standards…at least for the time it takes our toes to get cold inside our boots.  Let’s see if calling it a ‘challenge’ doesn’t have a motivating affect on the three of us.


11 thoughts on “Winter Walks

  1. Lisa says:

    First–I will NEVER EVER say it’s too cold to go outside for a walk again!! lol….
    Nature Study:
    We’ve gotten better at Nature Study with that Blog and her “Outdoor Hour challenges”–it’s great! (Her other blog, Harmony Art Mom is also excellent. She even has a robotics course she developed for her kids and drafting!!) We also get inspiration from “The Green Hour” My daughter has enjoyed having her drawings posted on my blog, too. I found both “Hours” as I was preparing to recommend “Last Child in the Woods” as my must-read of 2007. A final helpful “inspiration” blog is Sparrow’s Nest We’ve enjoyed some of her nature projects. Mostly though I find my kids find “something else” along our occasional walks and hikes–not what we set out for, so I’ve stopped mentioning a “topic.” Shamelessly, here is a link to one of our “Outdoor Hour challenge posts” and to our “Spore Prints” suggested at Sparrow’s Nest.
    Happy New Year!

  2. Susan says:

    this past summer I took my two 10 year olds on a nature walk scavenger hunt. I made a list for each of them to find ‘these’ things. mostly things I knew would be along our walk and some that ‘might’ be there but not sure. then we walked. and I talked about nature and God’s creation and what do they normally see when they walk we’ve walked or do they even see. I took pictures of all our ‘finds’ and scrapbooked it of course. if I ask them what’s the best thing about summer, our walk together is usually at the top of their list. it was only an hour and half walk yet they loved it. just wanted to share.
    love your site btw.

  3. GailV says:

    What a wonderfully evocative post!

    I have the Outdoor Hour blog on my blog reader. At last count I had over 30 unread posts. Somehow I’m not making that leap out the door….

  4. Meredith says:

    Love that John Muir quote, and we’re going to start off our new year with the Handbook Nature Challenge too, thankfully our first walk will not be in -42 or +25 for that matter, LOL! Wishing you warmer (or at least less windy) days 🙂 Looking forward to hearing about yours!

  5. Kim says:

    I love that book “Handbook of Nature Study” and have incorporated some activities into my public school classroom in the past.

    Just thinking, this morning, that I would be so glad when it gets lighter, earlier in the mornings…I don’t walk in pre-dawn darkness, but I often lay in bed waiting for the first light to appear, and it’s taking awhile, these days.

  6. V says:

    We came home from southwest Florida in December, and whew… it’s hard to leave that kind of sunshine and balmy air. But that evening when we were first home, the light turned the sky and snowbanks the most beautiful periwinkle… and it took my breath away for a second. The next night it snowed and the sky was that rose colored dome that comes after snow, and it was as bright outside as day, and the sounds were muffled in that fresh pink snow kind of night. I do love winter visually… I only wish winter weren’t so cold. I get tired of feeling cold 2/3 of the time. We live in a heated house! (We pay dearly for the heat, lol.) But the floors are drafty and I have to go places, after all. I’m glad you’re getting outside and the enthusiasm of the dog helps. love, V

  7. ChristineMM says:

    Love your post.
    I blogged yesterday about how I went out to look around and snap some photos with my new camera and then realized I should call the kids out. We had a blast outside for a half hour, then it was getting dark.

    I hope to blog more nature photos that I took yesterday in the next week and tell more about the cute things the kids said as they made discoveries from the ice storm.

    Here is the link to yesterday’s blog post.

    I blogged today about the new law in America that will, if it stays this way, will basically prevent people from selling handmade clothes and handmade toys and also from reselling used baby and children’s toys, clothes, and items. I thought that may be of interest to you from the perspective of a person who appreciates the handmade.

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